US stubbornly proceeds with Jerusalem plan, plans to open embassy in May

(MENAFN- Daily News Egypt) The US will move forward with its plan regarding Jerusalem, neither affected by the international community nor facing serious rejection from the Arab and Muslim world.

On Friday, the US State Department said it will open its new embassy in Jerusalem in May, coinciding €œwith Israel€™s 70th anniversary€. €œWe are excited about taking this historic step, and look forward with anticipation to May,€ the statement red. Israel welcomed the decision as President Donald Trump continued to defend it.

Back when Trump made the controversial declaration of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in December, officials said the embassy move would take a couple of years€perhaps to appease angry reactions. The latest was Vice President Mike Pence speaking in the Knesset in January, who said the embassy would open in 2019.

In addition to the schedule being accelerated, the new embassy will be located in the Arnona neighbourhood as an initial location, in a modern building that now houses consular operations of the US Consulate General in Jerusalem, which in turn will continue to operate as an independent mission with an unchanged mandate.

In other words, it is going to be an €œinterim embassy€ which will be expanded by the end of next year until the permanent location for the embassy is decided upon and its construction process completed.

According to a report by Fox News, while some experts see Trump€™s declaration as a delivered promise to his voters, others are concerned by the impact on the decision on sparking violence and causing significant harm to the US€™ credibility as a peace mediator.

For its part, Bloomberg highlighted disputes among officials of the US administration, mainly between the State Department on the one hand and Trump, Pence, and Trump€™s son-in-law Jared Kushner on the other. €œPence and Kushner, who Trump has put in charge of the Middle East peace process, have demanded the embassy be moved quickly, while Tillerson has argued for more time to ensure the safety of US citizens,€ the report said.

Bloomberg added that Steve Goldstein, the undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs, said in January, €œplans to build a new embassy in Jerusalem had been abandoned because such construction would be €œcost-prohibitive.€ He said the existing facility would be retrofitted instead, a comment that administration officials said provoked anger from Pence and Kushner.

This comes as business magnate Sheldon Adelson, a Republican pro-Israel influencer, offered to pay for the project. €œUnder any circumstance, letting private citizens cover the costs of an official government building would mark a significant departure from historical US practice. In the Jerusalem case, it would add yet another layer of controversy to President Trump€™s politically charged decision to move the embassy, given Adelson€™s longstanding affiliation with right-wing Israeli politics,€ the Associated Press reported.

Abbas proposes new peace conference, US reaffirms stance

In a Tuesday United Nations Security Council session, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas gave a long speech before the Security Council in which he we went over the history of the suffering of the Palestinian people, denial of their rights despite international resolutions, and their commitment to peace. He also accused the Israeli side of rejecting negotiations, a claim rejected by the Israeli representative.

€œWe call for the convening of an international peace conference by mid-2018, predicated upon international law and the relevant UN resolutions, with broad international participation, including the two parties concerned and regional and international stakeholders, foremost among them the permanent members of the Security Council and the Quartet in the same framework as the Paris conference for peace in the Middle East and the conference to be held in Moscow in line with [UNSC Resolution] 1850 (2009),€ Abbas stated.

He suggested different phases of the conference which would include the admission of the State of Palestine as a full member of the United Nations, and the establishment of €œan international multilateral mechanism that will facilitate negotiations between the two parties to resolve all permanent status issues€ and the suspension of the US decision to transfer its embassy to Jerusalem.


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